Golden rule definitely applies in sports

With the 100-0 game in Texas recently, sportsmanship has been in the news more than ever.
When do you take the foot off the gas? When do you try to stop doing what you practice and let up on the other team?
When do you show mercy?
I was discussing this tonight with a friend of mine during the Blue Springs-Blue Springs South game.
And fortunately, Missouri’s high school rules have been altered to make it more difficult to show up an opponent with a 100-0 shellacking.
First off, the running clock in the fourth quarter is a great idea. I remember a few years back when it wasn’t implemented I had a discussion with a college coach who used to coach at the high school level about it.
He hated the idea, saying that’s when you use your younger players and work to improve the program from the bottom up.
When I was in Maryville, the Spoofhounds used to have Tarkio Academy on the schedule. For those who don’t know, Tarkio Academy is a school for troubled youth that used to have Missouri State High School Activities Association status.
While it was good to let these boys get their aggression out, the teams were usually not very disciplined and very small.
Maryville was routinely up 50-0 at halftime.
But it never seemed like Maryville was running up the score – especially when one of the starting running backs cut in front of me in the concession stand line at halftime – in street clothes. All of the starters already changed and showered at halftime and there was no way they were coming back in.
But there’s a fine line.
Obviously, your players have practiced hard and there are always things you need to work on throughout the game in order to get better. But how much of it becomes a glorified practice? And what happens when it gets really out of hand?
In football, subs come in and traditionally run the ball up the middle. But would those younger players – and those of the other team – be better served by running regular offense and getting reps that way.
There’s no easy answer.
Another story from Maryville, my freshman year at Northwest Missouri State University we were 0-11. Coming from a good high school football program, it was the first time I had watched “my” team have a losing season, never mind never win a game.
One thing I saw after that, the Bearcats turned it around and have played in the last four national title games and have been to six of the last 11 – a streak that started while I was still in school.
There were some blowout games, definitely. But I noticed if the Bearcats were up 28 or 35, rarely did the starters go back in after halftime.
I asked coach Mel Tjeerdsma about that one time and he simply said, “We had that done to us enough in 1994. I don’t want to do that to anyone else.”
When in doubt, I guess the golden rule applies here as well.
Treat your opponent the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. Because you’re not always going to be up, and they aren’t always going to be down.